• Thu. Nov 24th, 2022

Mourning for NC principal who died unexpectedly at school

A beloved longtime Wake County principal who died unexpectedly at school Monday will be remembered as a combative leader who cared deeply for her students.

Families at Lufkin Road Middle in Apex were stunned to learn on Monday that Karen Sinders, the director for the past 10 years, had died. Gregg Sinders, her husband, said his wife is a great leader who will leave a legacy of service.

“She had to do what she loved to the end – love and serve students!” said Gregg Sinders in an interview on Tuesday. “She needed her as much as they needed her.”

The PTA at Lufkin Road Middle said Sinders will be “deeply missed”.

“Ms. Sinders was a fierce supporter of Lufkin Road and a clear leader for the students, faculty and school,” the PTA posted on Facebook Monday night. “We at the PTA remember her as a woman of grace and a strong awareness that Lufkin is not just a school but a home for many of our students.”

No cause of death was publicly disclosed.

Karen Sinders_fitted.jpeg
Karen Sinders, the principal of Lufkin Road Middle School, died Monday November 21, 2022. Wake County Public Schools

“Loved by her”

Gregg Sinders said his wife started her educational career as a clerk at Apex High School. Her children attended school in Wake County.

The family later moved to Indiana, where Sinders was born. Sinders, 62, would go on to become a teacher, assistant principal, and principal in Indiana.

In 2012 she returned to North Carolina to become the principal of Lufkin Middle. Sinders was among the longest-serving principals to remain at the same Wake school.

“Karen never did anything for recognition,” said Gregg Sinders. “But the teachers, students and families knew that she loved them.”

“Students always come first”

Several messages of condolences have been received since news of her death.

The city of Apex illuminated its municipal water tower in red on Tuesday evening in honor of Sinders.

“The Oak Grove family holds ours @lufkintweets Friends and neighbors in our thoughts and prayers at this sad time,” Stephanie Bias, Principal of Oak Grove Elementary in Cary, tweeted on Tuesday. “Karen Sinders was a heart-warming friend and colleague who smiled. Her passion for her job, her school community and her students was undeniable.”

Green Level High School in Cary tweeted on Tuesday that Sinders “was a warm and caring person who always put the students first!”

TRavis Shillings, the principal of North Ridge Elementary in Raleigh, tweeted on Tuesday that Sinders “was a consistent and supportive leader to all she served on a daily basis.”

“Karen Sinders was a strong woman and leader who loved her school,” said Erin May, principal of Olive Chapel Elementary in Apex. tweeted on Monday. “Our condolences and thoughts are with all those affected.”

The Wake County school system has partnered with Transitions GriefCare to help students, staff and others. The services are free.

memorial service plans

The von Sinders family will be welcoming friends and guests to Summit Church in Apex on Sundays from 2pm to 5pm. At 5 p.m. there will be a service in the church to celebrate life.

Instead of the usual reminders, memorial contributions can be donated to the Apex Education Foundation, according to the obituary.

Fond memories and condolences can be shared online at apexfuneral.net for the family.

This story was originally published Nov 22, 2022 3:52 p.m.

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Profile picture of T. Keung Hui

T. Keung Hui has reported on K-12 education for News & Observer since 1999, helping parents, students, school officials and the community understand the important role of education in North Carolina. His primary focus is Wake County, but he also addresses statewide educational issues.